Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has said he is appalled that the underwear choice of rape victims are being used by lawyers for the defence and the practice of victim blaming needs to stop.

The Sinn Féin TD was commenting after a recent case in Cork, where rape was complained of by a 17 year old, and the defence lawyers attempted to point to her thong as proof of her consent.

Deputy Seán Crowe:

“Recent media coverage has shone a light on how trials regarding rape are conducted in Ireland, both north and south. We now regularly hear details of what the alleged victim was wearing or not wearing, if they had makeup, if they were somehow dressed provocatively, why they hadn’t screamed if they were in trouble, or why didn’t try to psychically resist their attacker. This is appalling, indefensible and victim blaming.

“It is clear that there are not adequate protections for victims of rape, when they appear before the courts. The deeply traumatic and difficult experience of many complainants is a huge contributor to the fact that rape is so under reported. We need to radically change that experience.

“I agree with the Chief Executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre that there must be legal reforms in how rape trials are conducted.

“In other jurisdictions there is a formal model which can be used for judges to give direction if this kind of victim blaming is introduced by the defence.

“Sinn Féin will be seeking amendments to the Criminal Law Sexual Offences Bill to tackle this appalling practise, and to make it much harder for the defence to introduce clothing as evidence in this way. We need to bring an end to victim blaming in the courts and this would be a step in that direction.”